Giving goats injections may not be the first thing that you want to learn as a goat owner, but it’s an important skill to acquire.
CD&T vaccinations, BoSe supplements, and antibiotics are all examples of things that your goats are likely to need that are administered via injection. Because goats need them on a regular basis and sometimes need them when a veterinarian may not be available, it’s important to learn how to do them. Having a veterinarian do them is both impractical and expensive.
Giving Goats Injections – 3 Types
There are three main methods for administering injections:
1) Intramuscular (IM): Injected deep into the muscle. Generally, a needle length of 1” to 1 1⁄2” and a gauge of 18 to 20 is used. Drugs administered IM absorb faster than subcutaneous (SQ) but slower than intravenous (IV).
For IM injections, select the injection site, stick the needle into the muscle, withdraw the needle slightly to ensure you haven’t hit a vein (if you have hit a vein, blood will be drawn into the syringe and you need to re-try a slightly different location) and push the plunger slowly. It’s a good idea to have someone familiar with giving injections IM demonstrate how it’s done before you attempt it on your own.
2) Subcutaneous (SQ): Injected under the skin. A needle length of 1⁄2” to 1” and a gauge of 20 to 22 is typically used. For SQ injections, use the “tent” method. Pick up the loose skin in the area of the injection. Holding the syringe and needle parallel to the body, push the needle through the skin layer and administer the medicine into the cavity created by the tent.
3) Intravenous (IV): Administer the medication into the vein. This method is not recommended for inexperienced owners as it’s often difficult to locate the vein.
Giving the Injection
It’ a good idea to have a supply of 3 ml and 6 ml (they’re the most commonly used size) disposable syringes and appropriate gauge needles on hand. The medication label should identify which one of the three methods above to use for the injection. If both IM and SQ are listed as acceptable methods, it’s generally given to the goats SQ because it’s usually easier to administer that way. Always use a new needle to inject each goat to avoid any possibility of spreading disease.
To draw the medication into the syringe, swab the top of the medication bottle with an alcohol-soaked pad, insert the needle into the top of the bottle, and withdraw the medication. Be sure to tap the syringe while drawing to get any air bubbles out. Restrain the goat (put on a milk stand or similar restraint) and select the injection site (see illustration above for recommended sites). After all the medication is administered, withdraw the needle and rub the area firmly but gently.
There are many other injectables such as vitamins and pain relievers that it may be necessary to administer via injection depending on the circumstances. Often, the situation needs to be dealt with quickly and a veterinarian may not be immediately available or would need to make an emergency (costly) farm visit to give the injection. It’s therefore highly recommended that goat owners learn to administer injections at least subcutaneously and not rely on their veterinarian for this service.
Important Note: Always have Epinephrine on hand when giving injections in case of anaphylactic shock (immediate severe allergic reaction). Have it with you, you won’t have time to go get it if a goat goes into shock. If a goat suddenly goes into shock or collapses after a shot, immediately administer at 1 cc, SQ, per 100 lbs. You want the 1:1000 strength as shown in the photo left.
This is one medication that not good beyond the expiration date on the bottle, and you should always have an unexpired bottle of this around. Hopefully, you’ll never have to use it – I’m always happy when I throw away another expired bottle that never got used.